UK announces sanction on Syrian figures as country marks 10 years of conflict

UK announces sanction on Syrian figures as country marks 10 years of conflict
The UK foreign office has announced sanctions against supports and allies of the Syrian regime, including the foreign minister.
3 min read
15 March, 2021
Faisal Mikdad has served as Syria foreign minister since November 2020 [Getty]
The UK has today imposed sanctions on a number of Syrian regime figures, which it accuses of repressing the Syrian people as the country marks ten years since the start of the nationwide uprising. 

Close allies of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, including the country's Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad and an adviser to Assad, and Republican Guard commander have been targeted in the penalities. 

The sanctions have resulted in a travel ban and assets freezes and are designed to ensure that these figures "do not benefit from the UK in any way", according to a statement by the UK foreign office

The announced sanctions are the first sanctions imposed on Syria under the UK's "autonomous sanctions regime" following their departure from the European Union. 

The UK has accused the targeted individuals of supporting the regime, repressing the Syrian people, and benefitting from their misery. 

"The Assad regime has subjected the Syrian people to a decade of brutality for the temerity of demanding peaceful reform. Today, we are holding six more individuals from the regime to account for their wholesale assault on the very citizens they should be protecting," said UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab. 

Since the uprising against the Assad regime in 2011 and subsequent conflict, more than half a million people have been killed and over half of the pre-war population have been forced to flee their homes. 

The UK has accused the regime of routinely attacking vital infrastructure, hospitals and schools, treating the Syrian people with brutality and violence and using chemical weapons against civilians.

Additionally, they have accused the regime of blocking any progress to a political situation. 

The most notable name among those who were sanctioned today by the UK is Faisal Mikdad, Syria’s foreign minister.

"As a Government Minister shares responsibility for the Syrian regime's violent repression against the civilian population," according to the statement. 

Mikdad was appointed as foreign minister following the death of Walid Al-Muallem in 2020, having previously served as Syria's permanent representative to the UN and deputy foreign minister. 

Other names on today’s list include Luna Al-Shibl, advisor to Bashar Al-Assad. 

Prior to working for Assad, Shibl was a news anchor for Al Jazeera but resigned in 2010. 

After returning to Syria, Shibl rose up the ranks to become Assad's press officer. In 2017, rumours circulated about a rift between Shibl and Asma Al-Assad, who reportedly questioned the nature of the relationship between Shibl and her husband. 

"As media adviser to the president, she supports the Syrian regime, which relies on disinformation and a lack of media freedom to repress the civilian population," according to the UK foreign office listing. 

Read more: In the shadows of Syria's revolution, a generation of activists is born

Other listed by the UK include prominent businessmen Yassar Ibrahim, Muhammad Bara' Al-Qatirji, and Republican Guard commanders Major General Malik Aliaa and Major General Ziad Salah. 

In its statement announcing the sanctions, the UK foreign office said that it was pushing the Syrian regime to engage in UN-led talks. 

"The UK is working through the Security Council to push the regime to engage meaningfully in the UN-led peace process and Constitutional Committee talks in Geneva, release those held in arbitrary detention, and allow unhindered aid access throughout Syria," it read. 

This article is part of The New Arab’s special coverage of the Arab Spring decade of upheaval. 
Visit our Arab Spring portal here. 

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